February is American Heart Month, and it's a great time to evaluate what you do at home to stay heart healthy. Heart disease has a huge impact on the health of American citizens: It's the leading cause of death in the U.S., and one out of every three people dies of heart disease each year.
However, by switching to a healthier lifestyle, it may be possible to reduce or eliminate the risk factors for heart disease. Since much of our lifestyle patterns are established and reinforced in the home, that's the perfect place to start!
The kitchen is the heart of the home, so let's look at how you can improve your heart health there.
Set out bowls of nuts and fresh fruit so they're easy to grab for a snack.
Move healthy food options to eye level so they're the first thing you see.
Clean out and organize your fridge, tossing both expired and unhealthy items.
Don't overfill your fridge and cupboards so you can see everything you've got.
Keep tools and appliances that you use for healthy cooking easily accessible:
Make meal plans and do your prep ahead of time. Make it a weekly routine that the family joins in on.
Prepare meals to keep in your freezer that you can heat-and-go in a pinch (helpful for those days when ordering a pizza just sounds so much easier than cooking a healthy meal).
Here's how your dinner plate should ideally look:
Studies have found that we tend to have eating habits similar to those of our family and friends. Set an example by choosing to eat heart-healthy foods. And be sure to enlist the entire family to help prepare meals: Food always tastes better when you've been part of the process.
Just 30 minutes of exercise five times a week can help strengthen your heart.
Do you have a yard? Then you have an exercise space! Play fetch with the dog. Teach the kids to swing a bat, throw a ball, climb a tree — or just have tickle fights. Invite the crew over for flag football games. Small yard? What about using a manual push lawnmower?
Got a staircase? Now you have a free Stairmaster! If you can't get enough of your nightly Netflix binge, walk in place or use your furniture to exercise while watching TV. Use your couch for tricep dips and a full gallon of milk as a kettlebell. Up the difficulty of planking by using a ball as your unstable surface. And remember that mopping, vacuuming, and other household chores also get you moving. Now there's no excuse for not scrubbing the tub!
Do you have restrictions on your physical activities? A good series of stretches, lifting a thick book a couple of times a day, or using a resistance band while sitting in your chair are all options that may work for you.*
Make two trips with the groceries — on purpose!
Climb the stairs a couple of extra times.
Get at least seven hours of sleep.
Make time for your hobbies and interests.
Hug more, talk more, share more, love more.
Check out #OurHearts on social media to share and discover more heart health tips and ideas!
Sources: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute | National Institutes of Health | American Heart Association | Mayo Clinic
*Consult your doctor before beginning any kind of exercise program. These suggestions are not meant to replace the advice of a licensed physician..